Normally, congratulations would be in order for making it all the way to Draft Day™, but the prophetic Kyle Shanahan has us all on high alert for whatever Sunday might bring.
Last year’s NFL Draft felt a lot like throwing a saltine cracker to a starving person. The world had reached a standstill because of COVID-19 and with it, sports had come to a screeching halt. The 2020 NFL Draft was the first bit of pseudo-sports action we’d gotten in a month, and from Bill Belichick’s very good boy calling the shots to a disheveled Roger Goodell announcing picks from a chair in his basement, the weekend gave us a chance to escape from the fear of such an unprecedented time for generations of people and the all the growing uncertainty it brought with it.
Here we are a year later, sizing up the 2021 NFL Draft from a slightly different perspective, but still getting the chance to escape for a weekend.
Quarterbacks drafted in the first round
Under 5.5 QBs (-500)
Over 5.5 QBs (+300)
Considering the first three picks of this draft are going to be quarterbacks—the first time that’s happened since the 1999 NFL Draft—and the perceived talent at the position falls off a precipitous cliff after the first five quarterback prospects, it’s going to cost you to win some money on the under. Don’t count on someone like Davis Mills or Kellen Mond sneaking into the first round. Under 5.5 QBs.
Cornerbacks drafted in the first round
Over 4.5 CBs (-180)
Under 4.5 CBs (+140)
With this draft being so decidedly top-heavy with offensive talent, prospects on the other side of the ball are getting pushed down draft boards. It’s entirely plausible the first defensive prospect doesn’t get drafted until we’re outside of the top 10. That being said, the top defensive prospect on many draft boards is Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II, followed closely by draft season darling Jaycee Horn, a cornerback from South Carolina. Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley was at the top of many positional rankings until back surgery became a cause for concern, but it still seems likely he’ll be a first-round pick at some point. Beyond that, I don’t know if there are two more cornerbacks who get called on day one. Great value here with Under 4.5 CBs.
Wide receivers drafted in the first round
Over 4.5 WRs (-500)
Under 4.5 WRs (+300)
Much like the quarterback prop above, you’re going to have to pony up to make some money on this one, but there’s no doubt in my mind that Over 4.5 WRs hits here. Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, and Devonta Smith are firmly entrenched in the top-15 picks. Throw in Rashod Bateman from Minnesota, Florida’s Kadarius Toney, and Ole Miss receiver Elijah Moore to round out the prospects anticipated to be first-round picks and you’re easily covering the over here.
First player to be picked at a position
First RB to be picked in the 2021 NFL Draft
Travis Etienne (+200)
Najee Harris (-225)
Javonte Williams (+900)
While Najee Harris is at the top of many draft boards when it comes to the running back position, Travis Etienne is gaining some traction. Earlier this week, ESPN’s Todd McShay was on Ryen Russillo’s podcast and mentioned the Buffalo Bills are interested in trading up in the first round to ensure they could draft Etienne. At +200, those are some pretty attractive odds, so float a little cash on a team in contention getting aggressive and making Etienne the first running back to come off the board on Thursday.
First defensive player picked in the 2021 NFL Draft
Micah Parsons (+375)
Patrick Surtain II (+100)
Kwity Paye (+1200)
Jaycee Horn (+200)
Jaelan Phillips (+1200)
Here’s a prop that’s really interesting because the first team being mocked a defensive player in most drafts is Detroit at No. 7, and the dots keep getting connected to Penn State’s Micah Parsons. These odds are clearly taking into account that Detroit either goes with a player on offense or trades out of the pick, clearing the way for Patrick Surtain II to be the first defensive player picked by a team like Denver or Dallas.
First OL to be picked in the 2021 NFL Draft
Penei Sewell (-600)
Rashawn Slater (+350)
It’s all about value here and I truly believe Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater is worth a flier here given the odds. As final mock drafts pour out this morning, LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase continues to be the Cincinnati Bengals pick at No. 5 and really leaving things up in the air when it comes to the first offensive linemen off the board. Sewell seems to be the popular pick, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Slater is selected ahead of him.
Mr. Irrelevant Position
A coin flip at less than even odds, so in other words, a wildly stupid bet—so I love it. Special teamers are the soup du jour in the later rounds, so I’ll take defense.
Buffalo first pick
I literally just told you they’re rumored to be trading up for a running back, so offense at those odds is juicy.
Total Alabama players selected in the first round
Over 5.5 Alabama players (-225)
Under 5.5 Alabama players (+160)
Mapping it out, Devonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, Mac Jones, and Patrick Surtain II seem to be locks for Thursday. Beyond that, a lot of question marks. Is Christian Barmore, the best interior defensive lineman in a historically weak class, going to sneak into the first round as a reach? With teams starting to reconfigure their value of running backs, is Najee Harris likely to be a first-round pick? Neither Alex Leatherwood nor Landon Dickerson feel like day one prospects. I like betting the under on this one.